The Frsky Taranis X-Lite ($130) is an innovative design for an RC controller. Most drone remotes are large and cumbersome. They seemingly have hundreds of switches and are intimidating to novice pilots. Frsky decided to build a game-pad style remote for those looking for a more ergonomic and portable option. I recently picked one up and put it to the test.
FrSky Taranis X-Lite
Right off the bat, I could tell I would like the Frsky Taranis X-Lite. It just felt more comfortable in my hand. I have used numerous remotes, but the Taranis QX7 is my typical go-to remote. This has all the functionality of the QX7($105) but is about half the size and weight. It was built to resemble an Xbox or Playstation remote. While I wouldn’t consider myself a gamer, I grew up playing video games and this remote feels right at home.
The Taranis X-Lite has two two-way switches on the shoulders, two three-way switches above the gimbals and a pair of dials in the center. There is also a directional pad for trims and navigation buttons for the LCD screen so you can navigate the menu. While this may fall short in terms of the number of switches of a “standard” remote, it is more than enough. I struggle to use more than four switches. I use one for arm, modes, beeper, and flip. After dedicating a switch for each of those I still have two unused dials at my disposal.
The Taranis X-Lite utilizes the OpenTX software. This is the same as the Taranis QX7 and X9D. There are countless options and customizations available and there are plenty of YouTube videos that will show you how to customize it the way you want.
Taranis X-Lite drawbacks
One of the bigger drawbacks to the remote is that the gimbal length is much shorter than a standard remote. Because of its small size, the gimbals are also smaller. This definitely takes some getting used to. As a thumb pilot, it seems to work quite well for me. While I’m not a native pincher I find it more comfortable to grip but the short gimbals definitely aren’t doing pinchers any favors.
The Taranis X-Lite came with both gimbals center mounted and there are screw adjustments on the back of the remote so you can change the tension of the springs. While this is a fantastic idea, it just didn’t work for me. I ended up having to open up the X-Lite and removed the left throttle spring myself. It was a simple process and required only removing two screws, but I would have preferred not to have done the minor operation.
Frsky included a nice padded carrying case for the X-Lite. It really adds to the portability of the remote. Even in the included case, it is still smaller than the Taranis QX7 and now easily stores in any backpack. You will also get two gimbal protectors to keep them safe while it is stored.
The X-Lite does have a module bay, so it can be expanded to accept a Crossfire or Multiprotocol module. Unfortunately, it isn’t the JR bay that is common on the other Taranis models so you’ll have to pick up all new modules. I have this multiprotocol module ($35) on the way, so I can test out how well that works soon. If you need multiprotocol but you don’t want to deal with modules then you’ll want to take a look at the Jumper T8SG $130).
Some pilots indicate that the X-Lite doesn’t have the range that their X9D or QX7 have, but I haven’t found that to be the case. Typically I don’t perform range tests as I find that a good way to lose your drone, not to mention that flying beyond line of sight is against FAA regulations.
Taranis and micro drones
Generally speaking, I fly micro quads like the Mobula 7 or Tinyhawk more than full five inchers. Range typically won’t be an issue flying one of these little guys as I’ll lose video far before I lose transmission. As a micro guy, I always felt a little awkward flying a Tinyhawk with a remote that was 5 times larger than my quad. The X-Lite and Tinyhawk make a solid pair.
The QX7 and Jumper T8SG are both fine drone remotes. They have their own set of advantages. However, the small size and ergonomic design of the Taranis X-Lite set it apart from the others. If you are looking for something more portable or if you like the game-pad design then I’d recommend you take a look at the Tinyhawk. If you want a more in-depth look into why choosing the right remote is so important then you need to read this article.
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